If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away---Henry David Thoreau

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Pacifist's Memorial Day Reflection

On Memorial Day I will be thankful….

that I am no longer in the military and that I did my time

that at the age of 19 I had the conviction to not want to kill people for the government

that I received a conscientious objector status

that I was trained as a medic and did not carry a weapon

that I did not go to the killing fields of Vietnam

that instead of entertaining daily thoughts of dying I entertained troops with music

that I do not cherish the idea that other soldiers died for me or my freedom

On Memorial Day I will remember….

those who, like myself, did not want to spend their youthful years in the military

those who left this country rather than going to war to kill

those conscientious objectors who served their country through alternative service

those young men who went to war and died believing the war was not justified

those young men who went to war and died believing the war was justified

those older men still suffering from the nightmares of war

those young men we called “enemies” who went to war and died for their own country

those politicians and common people who pressed for more military money and an escalation of the war as young men returned home in flag draped coffins

I will remember

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Short Review of The Naked Anabaptist by Stuart Murray

Stuart Murray has written a significant introduction to the Anabaptist tradition stripped of the cultural and ethnic baggage associated with the groups descendant from the 16th century movement (Mennonites, Hutterites, Amish). Murray’s reflections on the Anabaptist tradition grow out of his work with the Anabaptist Network, begun in 1991 in the United Kingdom, which in turn emerged from the groundwork done by the London Mennonite Center. The Anabaptist Network affiliates with leaders and congregations, predominantly from other church traditions, who are interested in drawing from the wellspring of Anabaptist thought. This book emerged as a resource for answering many questions arising from those interested in the Anabaptist tradition.

The major chapters of the book present the essence of the Anabaptist tradition through reflections on seven core convictions, which are more contextual theology than doctrine. I can only briefly outline them: 1) Jesus is our example, teacher, friend, redeemer and Lord; 2) Jesus is the focal point of God’s revelation; 3) Western culture is slowly emerging from the Christendom era, which distorted the gospel; 4) The frequent association of the church with status, wealth, and force is inappropriate for followers of Jesus and damages our witness; 5) Churches are called to be committed communities of discipleship and mission, places of friendship, mutual accountability, and multivoiced worship; 6) Spirituality and economics are interconnected; 7) Peace is at the heart of the gospel. Also included is a chapter on Anabaptist history, a final chapter on the weaknesses and limitations of the Anabaptist tradition, resources, and a study guide.

As one who was first attracted to Anabaptism from outside its historic ethnic traditions, this book resonated with my own long held view that the Anabaptist tradition is a treasure for the post-Christendom church and for its ancestors who have often taken it for granted or who, like the biblical Jacob, have sold their “birthright” for a pot of Evangelical beans.